SPRINGFIELD, Mo.– Springfield Public Schools has announced it will go virtual next week beginning Tuesday, January 25.  

Monday will be used as a training day for SPS teachers to prepare virtual instruction to all students beginning on Tuesday. No classes will be held Monday, January 24th. 

After the district made the decision to close this week citing the pandemic’s negative impact on staffing, SPS says it has continued to monitor conditions in schools and the community. 

The district said in an email to parents today, “While it was our hope that we could return to in-person classes next week, that will not be possible. There are still a rising number of COVID cases within SPS, with 20 percent of our workforce reporting a necessary absence.” 

As a result, SPS says it will still not have the staffing required to provide in-person learning next week. 

“This is an ongoing public health emergency, and this is not going away,” SPS Director of Communications, Stephen Hall, told OzarksFirst on Friday. “In fact, this surge is impacting us much more severely than any prior surge.”

The decision to go virtual comes as SPS has documented 1,642 cases of COVID-19 across the district from January 4 through January 18. The total number represents 1,237 students and 405 staff. 

Hall says in SPS’s own centralized testing center, more than 50 percent of symptomatic individuals are testing positive. 

He says the district will have to be strategic with how many days classes are held only online due to the state only allowing six virtual days this semester. 

“We are concerned because as we look ahead and we know that there’s a potential that we have two weeks before we reach the peak of this surge,” Hall said. “There is real concern about where we go from here.”

SPS says it has been limited on what policies it can put in place to control the spread of the virus after Attorney General Eric Schmitt filed a cease and desist letter for all districts who attempt to require students to wear masks or stay home due to exposures. 

Whether or not to again require SPS students to wear masks was discussed at length during a school board meeting held Tuesday, January 18. No decision was made at the meeting. 

Since then, the SPS administration has requested that the Board of Education hold a special meeting on Friday, January 28, to consider implementation of a Public Health Order to require mask intervention for all staff and students from January 31 through February 18. 

Hall says the Board is currently considering this request. 

In an email sent to parents Friday, SPS asks families to review the following instructions and tips that will be helpful during virtual instruction days from Jan. 25 through Jan. 28.

  1. Each day, students will be expected to log in during their scheduled class time, engage and participate in learning. Use these Canvas resources to support learning. 
  2. Please review this tip sheet for helpful information about logging in and accessing your child’s instructional resources. 
  3. Live technical support will be available to you Monday through Friday. Contact the IT Help Desk between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. at 417-523-HELP or the Launch Help Desk from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at 417-523-0417. You may also email questions to support@fueledbylaunch.com. Students may also access support via the Chat option in their Canvas course.
  4. Printed resources will be available for students in Kindergarten through Grade 2 who may not be able to participate in virtual learning. Please contact your child’s school to request a packet.
  5. Students who need a device or hotspot may pick them up at their school on Monday, Jan. 24, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. or from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
  6. Grab and go meals will be available to pick up, but you must sign up by 6 a.m. Monday, Jan. 24.Meals will be available for pick-up on Monday and Thursday at select sites. To sign up for meals and learn more about pick up, use this formNote: If your child is currently enrolled in virtual learning and already receives grab-and-go meals, additional sign up is not required.